How to Take a Mental Health Day Without Feeling Guilty

When people say they are unwell, thoughts immediately turn to physical ailments; they must have a cold, a stomach bug or a broken limb. It is rare that attention turns to mental health. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and looking after it is key to your overall wellbeing. 

In the grand scheme of things, much less is known about our psychological than physiological health, but what is known is the number of people suffering from mental health problems is on the increase. Of course, there could be many reasons for this rise, but part of that increase could be due to the hectic lives we lead. We have technology at our fingertips, which means switching off can be hard. Sometimes, the thought of switching off the blackberry when you know your boss might email at any minute is terrifying! But, we need to make sure we leave time and space for rest and relaxation, and to recognise when we need it most. 

How do we know when to stop?

Often we think we must wait until our allotted holiday slot, or until we have a mini breakdown at work before we will allow ourselves to take a step back. This is counterintuitive and will only lead you into corporate meltdown! So how do you ensure to allow time for your mind to get that much needed R&R and heal itself before you sink to the depths of despair and walk into a nervous breakdown?  

The key here is recognising way in advance where your breaking point is and your individual signs when you get close to it... Perhaps you eat or drink more, perhaps you snap at your loved ones or you’re always late into the office; whatever your signs are, learn to read them and give yourself a much-needed break.

How to say to your boss - I’m taking a mental health day!

Feel confident in saying to your boss, ’my work and home life is suffering, and I need some time out.’ I am going to take a day off to recharge my batteries; I will switch off my phone and I won’t answer emails. I will be back in the following day. Try to tag it on to a weekend to allow yourself a longer period to stop and relax. As long as you don’t make a habit of it, and you’re not seen painting the town red with your mates with pictures plastered all over Facebook (this is not what a day of R&R looks like!), your boss should understand and allow you some time to regenerate. Ultimately, your workplace will get more from you if you are in the best state of mind possible.

However, if you do find you need to take more and more days like this, and your boss is becoming suspicious, you need to take a good look at why you need so much time out. Perhaps things have got more out of hand than you thought. If so, talk to your family, friends and perhaps a health professional for extra support. 

How to have a day of R&R

Sometimes it can be hard to relax, so how should you do this?

  • Switch off all electrical equipment that keeps you close to work. That includes, no Blackberry, no emails and definitely no conference calls!
  • Have a lie in. Let yourself rest up, there’s no need to rush out of bed, take your time and enjoy that extra hour in bed.
  • Arrange something with the people you like most. Ask a close friend or family member to spend some time with you. Don’t do anything too strenuous, just a fun activity that takes your mind off work and any other stressors.
  • Read a book. This is pure escapism and means you don’t need to talk to or think about anyone other than the book characters. Bliss!
  • Go to a spa / get a massage. Why not - this is the ultimate way to de-stress!

Final thoughts

Mental and physical health go hand in hand, once you get to breaking point, your physical health will also suffer. So make sure you catch it in the act before you snap!

Image source: flickr